Come Together: A rant on editing

edited September 2006 in Story Games
I'm annoyed.

I just spent several bucks on an e-edition of a relatively new indie RPG, and while, conceptually, I give it an A+, technically, I'd have to give it an A-, or B+. I bought the e-book as part of a deal the author's company has, where you can buy the ebook, then upgrade to a print book, if you want it, for the difference in cost between the print and pdf. Sweet! I started reading and figured I'd be quickly sending along that difference for a nice shelf copy of what was shaping up to be an excellent piece of work. However, by the time I finished reading, I'd decided, maybe the price I paid for the ebook was a bit too much.

What's the problem? About a dozen or so editing misses: bad grammar, dropped words, extra words, misspelled words, typos, etc. The sort of things that make a reader stumble, breaking the flow and hindering comprehension, if only for a moment. And this book boasts an editor, who, according to the author, made significantly heavy edits. I've seen this unprofessional trend in nearly all of the indie texts I've purchased recently as reference and a window into the field. Mind you, these have been games from the stars of the gaming design community†. They are all reasonably well-written, when allowing for style variance; they are all clever; they all have one or more unique aspects that make them cutting edge games. This is what we have come to expect from the community.

Are we also now to expect shoddy copy editing as well? Is it just me? Am I being too picky to expect professionals to supply professional-quality work? Maybe.
Many would say that the value of these works lies in the spirit of their content, not the letter. For the most part I agree. But frankly, as a fledgling game designer, I find it embarrassing to find so many mistakes that could have been avoided by careful reading. (I'm not talking about a single mistake in a whole text. Nobody is perfect; no one is going to be able to catch everything. That's why the big shots have editing teams. Fresh eyes find fresh mistakes.)

Here's my take:
Point one: it's one thing for the first printing of a large print-lot book to exhibit these editing misses. It's lamentable, but excusable. I've even encountered it with $90 textbooks. At least with textbooks, w'ere usually talking about several hundred pages of text. A dozen mistakes there is somewhat understandable. Usually these issues get corrected by the second printing. However, with indie game design, we're usually talking books on the order of 50 pages, maybe 100.
Point two: With the introduction of e-books and POD services, there really is no such thing as first printing, second printing, etc. It's all continuous. There is no reason for an author not to fix the little mistakes as they are found, simply "printing" a new pdf and providing it at the store. It's not only lamentable, but inexcusable.

So why do I find such mistakes so often? Either, a) the authors' don't care , or b) no one is telling them. I suspect the latter. After all, who wants to be the one to contact the author whose game you found utterly enthralling, but oh, by the way, you messed up here, here, and here. That's even more embarrassing than just finding the mistakes. Clearly, we have a Catch-22.

Oh, and I'm not just talking to hear myself speak, today. I have a solution to propose. Let's come together as a community and help each other out. We can't afford big editing teams for works that are only going to sell at a trickle for low prices. Yet, I wouldn't want my product going out with amateurish quality. I take pride in my work, as do all of you. I want it presented in the best light, given the best credibility. So let's form a mutual final-edit community. I don't propose that we do away altogether with professional editors. They are sorely needed (I imagine one could work wonders with this post). They can offer insight on how to tighten up prose to make it read easily, when to trash whole sections and start over, and when you're beating that horse. We need the pros; I fully intend to utilize them, and suggest you do too. What I'm talking about here is editing after the pros have done. After you get your baby all dressed up and ready to meet the world, take a minute to hand her to a stranger and see what they notice. Pass it along to fresh eyes. Give a copy to a friend who hasn't yet read the text (familiarity with the game is okay, as long as the text is new to him).

To that end, I propose we form a small community of final-read editors; volunteers who are willing to give a careful read to a piece before it hits the virtual shelves. Or even after, as long as the author intends to implement any necessary changes. So here's a start: contact me at if you want me to help you out. Anyone else who wants to help out, post your contact info here. Let's all try to make each other look good!‡


†Note: I'm withholding game names purposefully. I don't want to point fingers here.
‡I'll be posting this rant in other places, like The Forge, and my livejournal, too, to get a wider dissemination.


  • I'm not sure where to begin. Let's start here - I'm going to be as carefully edited and polished as I choose to be. Because I'm an independent creator-publisher. In my case, I enjoy the conceit that I am a reasonably professional A-, but I'm not about to impose that standard on my friends who are making their own awesome choices about their independently created and published awesomeness. If their standard is B+, then here's me throwing a goat and rock the hell on, punk rock DIY dude who missed a word. It may cost you sales from people with high editorial standards, but that's your call to make.

    It's totally cool that you propose a solution to a problem you see rather than just rant. I just don't see the problem, myself.
  • Posted By: qhudspethTo that end, I propose we form a small community of final-read editors; volunteers who are willing to give a careful read to a piece before it hits the virtual shelves. Or even after, as long as the author intends to implement any necessary changes.
    Sounds like a terrific volunteer effort. I certainly hope you're still going strong the next time I have something I want to subject to that kind of fine-tooth-comb process, 'cuz I'll take you up on it in a heartbeat. Keep us posted!
  • edited September 2006
    I just hired an editor for the book I'm working on last night.

    Good editing, to me, is worth the weight of the book in precious metals.
  • I know from experience that I suck at editing, so I can't really help on that end (though I wouldn't mind contributing in some other way if the opportunity arose), but if such a resource existed I would jump at the chance once I'm ready to publish something.
  • There's a difference between style editing and proofreading. Anyone who passed high school English can notice spelling and grammar mistakes. Admitted, some better than others.
  • As far as the idea goes of a pool of editors to help make sure that the level of editing is at a good enough level? Yes please. I think unless that pool is particularly large, they'll be overwhelmed with people clamoring for their work. But it's a very good intention and I like the idea of it, regardless of the motives that prompted it.

    As to the necessary level of editing on a product... I think it depends on your goals with the project.

    Don't Rest Your Head was edited by me and the wife, and some errors crept into the final version, some of which I haven't gotten a chance to correct yet. Then again, the pricepoint of $15 on DRYH reflects that. It was a fast write, and fast to production. If I let myself slow down the air would've gone out of my sails.

    Spirit of the Century is big and different by comparison. The editing process was long and, from some perspectives, pretty grueling; it added several months to the release timeframe, in the end estimate. But I don't blink at our pricepoints on it as a result.

    There is an extent to which I look at independent design as being a lot like the development of open source software or, hell, even a Microsoft product release. The products go out there with bugs in them, and the early adopters do bear the brunt of that, feeding those bugs back to the developers and, if all the irons in the fire don't keep it from happening, those bugs get a shot at getting ironed out in the next release.

    I find this perspective useful and important, because what you're saying about editing being necessary also applies to playtesting, but y'know, some people just don't want to wait an extra two to twelve months to put the product out simply to conform to a supposed standard of sufficient effort. The early-adopting public is, at times, A-OK as your source of exactly what you're wanting (edits that might not be caught pre-production no matter how many friends you had read over it; problems emerging in play that just don't happen until a critical mass of folks are playing your game).

    Some of them may well be super-excited to be a part of that process, too. I know I am. And games can rock despite their flaws. I know several currently on my hot-shelf that totally fit that bill.

    Is it worth getting *angry* about these flaws? I don't think so. And if you find you are getting angry about them, maybe you should ask whether or not being an early adopter is a good call?
  • Several indie designers have hired editors in the past. Rich Forest is known for being a badass in this regard. Push is peer edited, which helps a lot, having 10 people comb the text before it gets sent out. But even then we miss stuff. I agree with Jason that it's all a question of how much time and energy people put into it. I'm not a professional in this field and generally have more important things to worry about than catching every last typo. I don't see this as laziness or crappy craftsmanship so much as reality. Other projects are calling.
  • Quentin, I'll happily join you in those efforts. Although I have to say that you and i must be purchasing different games, as I have yet to encounter any serious errors to date.
  • I'm not going to proofread my post here. I'll leave it "as is".

    Anyway, this group edit effort sounds like a nice idea.

    I do think that games like ours should b held to the same stadard as games from larger publishers. that being said, there are actually few larger publishers that make more then a token proofread. White Wolf used to be really bad at this, and there are at least 2 exalted books that if you drink a shot every time you find a typo you'll die from alchohal piosoning by page 30. pointing out small games as places where proof reading is lax is a bit misleading. The whole industry is bad at it.

    Panty explosion has several errors. matt and I did our best to self-proff it, and we had several friends go over it as well. But some stuff still made it in. One month after release I'm just completeing a revised edition of the text that will replace our current PDF and the current print edition of the book . several people were kind enough to point out errors in the text, and since we had to go back to press anyway (the book has sold out) we had the perfect opprotunity top do something about it.
  • I agree with qhudspeth - at least, with part of the point.

    I'm not bothered too much by the occasional spelling error or clunky sentence. I can live with those, although, of course, in a perfect world there'd be no need for them.

    What I see lacking in the game design process is the RPG designer equivalent of an interaction designer. That is, someone who helps make the rules text accessible and attractive for the players. I've read several games - and I'm talking everything from playtest documents to printed books - that would have benefited enormously from clearer structure, less verbosity, a single diagram, a different chapter order.

    I'm quite happy to help people with advice on structuring & presenting a game text. It's something I'm good at. So, if you're reading this and want some tips, drop me a line.
  • edited September 2006
    The most egregious short-comings are where authors are all, "I'm sure that's in the text," because they've been saying or playing that way for months, and the folk they got to give the text a once-over are already familiar with the rules, and stuff just gets missed that fucks up gameplay. I consider it a mandatory minimum to show your text to someone unfamiliar with the game itself (although familiar with RPGs) for a read-through that checks that they could, y'know, sit down to actually play it without having to hit The Forge or your website to ask how to play it. Grrr.
  • Quentin, with all due respect I don't think you understand what you've got in your hands. You've got a first edition first printing of a book. Those textbooks that you saw? Unless you're a textbook reveiwer, you aren't seeing first edition first printings. The entire print run of first edition, first printing of most professional big publishing house books goes to reviewers. What gets to the public and to classrooms are second printings and up. An error rate of 5% (5 errors per 100 pages) is about what I'd expect in first ed, first print. So on the one point, I've got to disagree with you. The 'professional standards' of the semi=professional publishers are more or less up to snuff. Those 5% errors can get fixed in the second printing, and the big structural errors that other folks have mentioned can get fixed in the second edition.

    Here, however, is where I'm consistently disappointed with the indie games publishing community: our reprint process sucks ass. To my knowledge, only The Shadow of Yesterday and Dogs in the Vineyard have seen a second edition (I know Sorcerer is an nth-iteration product, but that is not the same to my eye). A number of books that could have seen significant improvements in a second printing are simply reprinted without the errors being fixed. Now, the effort involved in updating a pdf is not insignificant; epsecially as the projects get bigger, it's a bigger hassle to export updated pdfs to exacting specs. But while I do see a commitment to quality in the first printing, I'm not seeing the continued commitment to maintain the book title beyond its debut. I'm hoping we overcome this hurdle in the years ahead. It would do indie games good to have adequate support.
  • Alexander, while I agree with you in principle, you rapidly start running out of people to hit up for that kind of thing. The missing rule in Shock: that you Praxes have be at least 3 and at most 8 is an important rule that I can't find anywhere in the text. The people who were familiar with the game during playtesting were playing that way. People who didn't know wouldn't know to ask because it's not immediately apparent in even the 40% of cases where it might take place.

    A weakness? Sure. One I'd like to solve.

    Now, if you were to offer, say, oh, for example, the services of the Nerds for playediting, that would be spectacular. We'd all get better games and better texts out of the deal. I don't suppose you could offer such a thing, could you?

  • Point one: it's one thing for the first printing of a large print-lot book to exhibit these editing misses. It's lamentable, but excusable.

    Dude, there are like four or five layers of editorial process between the time the author of one of those sends off their manuscript and when it gets published. If it's excusable there, then it is entirely understandable and forgivable in an indy game where it may just be one designer and a few kind readers (who are not professional proofreaders--I mean, wow, the pros are friggin' amazing at picking out errors).

    To that end, I propose we form a small community of final-read editors; volunteers who are willing to give a careful read to a piece before it hits the virtual shelves.

    This is cool--if you really want to get the most out of this process, make sure that the final text goes to more than one editor. The more eyes that lay hold upon it, the better.
  • Posted By: Joshua BishopRobyQuentin, with all due respect I don't think you understand what you've got in your hands. ...Here, however, is where I'm consistently disappointed with the indie games publishing community: our reprint process sucks ass....
    As usual, Josh, you've sussed it better than I. That is exactly the point I was so poorly aiming at, actually. The reprint process should be more continual, and not just for the technical polish but the content (i.e. tweaking the game). Just so you know, Valence 592 and Console are currently in their second editions. Don't know of any others, though I'm rather poorly versed in the IRPG market.
  • I had posted this ridiculous rant over at The Forge, too ( Rich Forest has an excellent post there detailing the editing process for the big guns that Isbo and Josh hinted at. Thanks guys.

    Also, after due consideration, I had to post a couple of mea culpas over there. I reprint them here with the same sentiment. Sorry for my assiness.
  • I recant the rant…
    …but not the sentiment. I’ll try to explain in separate posts; let me first say a few things.
    1) I feel like an ass for ranting like that. It was not the way to present a serious topic that I care about. The whole point wasn’t me getting annoyed with one book, but that I see a bit of a spread in the polish of professional IRPGs. I wanted to present a way to deal with it before the spread grows, and in the process pick the experts brains about the final-edits process. I’m sorry for sidetracking with that rant as way of introduction. Please forgive my foolishness.

    2) Thank you so much Rich for taking the time to post. You really cleared up a lot of unasked questions and made points I should have seen myself.

    3) I should have used the term “proofreading” rather than editing. It is a more focused term and covers the actual aspect of publishing I’m describing. I did not intend to imply that one style of writing was better than another. I’m a big fan of varied styles and fight hard against Strunk-and-White-ruled writing (thought, it is one of my favorite guides). I was focusing on the little silly mistakes that slip through the cracks but still mar the surface.

    4) Rather than attempt to discuss the book and author that prompted the post, I will take my own advice and contact him personally with the information. As I mentioned above, the point of the post wasn’t to complain about a particular work, but rather to address the general issue. This does not require a list of substandard books, as that would just start off a side-thread on people’s thresholds.

    5) A correction: I fell prey to my own problem. In the original post I said there were “about a dozen or so” mistakes. That should have been “about a half dozen or so”. I missed that in my proofread. That works out to about one per ten pages for the book in question, so, yes, I realize I was being too harsh and grumpy. Thanks for setting me straight. I know there are those who will say even that was too much, and those who couldn’t care less if every page had some minor mistake on it, as long as the game is good. My hope is that there is a middle ground.
  • edited September 2006
    Let’s try again.
    Recently it has occurred to me that there exists a gradient in the amount of polish one can expect from the text of independently produced RPGs. I refer here only to the “professional” works, which I’ll define to be those that are paid for, rather than freely disseminated (this is not, of course, the only connotation of professional, but for lack of a better term…). Some publishers take great pains to ensure quality both conceptually and technically in their work. Others stress concept and let technicality take a backseat. I have not found any that stress technical polish over conceptual, however, so that’s good.

    Now, I don’t say this gradient is an evil thing that needs to be stamped out, but rather a blemish on the art form that I see needs addressing. With my earlier rant, I gave the impression that there was only gold or pyrite, and for that I am sorry. Rather, what I meant to convey was that there is an opportunity for us to shine (if I may humbly include myself in the profession, though I am technically still amateur and unpublished). A few errors will always crop up, for the various reasons mentioned in Rich’s post, and likely more. I don’t expect all works to be perfect, but if we can raise the quality of the average, then let’s do.

    We hold the big publishing companies (be they RPG, or mainstream literature) to a high standard when it comes to the technical polish, whether it be because of the amount of money we shell out or whatever, and we bitch and moan to them when they let us down, or simply put out the word that their product is crap (and let’s face it, it happens to them, too). Consequently, as Rich pointed out, the editing process for the big guns is intense. Frankly, we can’t expect the indie community to follow the same procedures, because it’s not fiscally responsible. Yet, to lower our standards should be distasteful, at the least.

    Hence, I wanted to present an idea for mitigating this perceived range in quality. I agree with Rich that one editor is not enough for very thorough proofreading, which is why I suggested the volunteers group for that final read. In addition, it would be great if the community engendered a sense of openness about post-production edits, encouraging readers to submit any mistakes or simple misunderstandings to the author, whether through email or forum postings. (Perhaps this is already the case; I haven’t taken the time to see if anyone is posting that sort of stuff here.) The Forge might even consider creating such a forum where authors could check to see if their work is mentioned…or not if they consider it a non-issue. This would certainly make the reprint process go more smoothly for those publishers who do so.

    The indie RPG development community is like a guild, and as such we have a responsibility to encourage (though, not require) a high standard among the guild members. So, I guess what I’m saying is the best way to do that is to help each other out. Many people already go out of their way to playtest new games, so I’m sure there’ll be others who’d be happy to help with the proofreads. If ten people have new games ready to hit the market, and they all swap off even once, they have already made inroads to the complex level of editing Rich described.

    Thank you again for your time,
  • Posted By: Joshua A.C. NewmanNow, if you were to offer, say, oh, for example, the services of the Nerds for playediting, that would be spectacular. We'd all get better games and better texts out of the deal. I don't suppose you could offer such a thing, could you?
    Yeah, that would be great, a mutual playtest community. I figure that would be a lot harder, since you have to actually meet to play and get people together to do it. That takes way more time than a proof read, but it addresses an issue even more important than the technical polish, which is the content polish. I wish I had a good idea of how to sddress that one. Anyone ever have success with play-by-post playtesting?

  • Just in case it still matters, I'll gladly proofread something if given enough time. I've been proofreading (and cite checking) convoluted legal documents at work for several years now.

    As for structural or content editing, unless your work is fiction, I won't have much to say in that regard aside from what I learned during the thesis-writing process.
  • Your rant made me angry, so I'm personally glad you've reconsidered. I'm a little surprised that most of my peers just rolled with the punches, basically agreeing with your assessment that "lowering our standards" is distasteful and lack of technical perfection represents a "blemish on the art form". Those are sentiments you haven't recanted and that I find misguided and insulting.

    So what's up, guys? I'm not talking to Quentin - I'm talking to the designer-publishers I know personally who replied to this thread with "great idea!" Is there no room for the crazy guy with the Kinko's gift card and a vision anymore? Because if you no longer love and support that guy, that sucks.
  • Jason, I support that girl/guy! But I'll also proofread her/his stuff for free, if s/he wants to :)
  • Jason, I draw a distinction in my head between game design and publishing. The crazy guy at Kinko's can certainly create a great game, and I'll laud him for it. If he tries to put it out there as a book, though, I'm going to fault him on his technical inexpertise just as much as I'd fault him on design flaws of the game presented.

    I mean, I love me the Principia Discordia, but I don't go around saying it's a well-made book, y'know?
  • edited September 2006
    I would certainly volunteer to proofread anyone's pre-release PDF or book. I've got an eye for spotting typos. My co-workers jokingly call me "The Legal Department" and I enjoy reading grammar nazi books like "Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation." I've emailed polite lists of typos to game authors. Some are gracious; others never reply.

    If you'd like me to proofread a final draft, my email address (for this venture) is: proofreader at lawfulneutral dot com.
  • Jason,
    I'm lovin' the wacko, too. My point is that we can help him past any technical hurdles so he can be taken (more) seriously. That's all.

    But, on the other hand, you've also got a good point. There should always be room for Kinko's guy, which is why I advocate encouraging the technical "beauty", rather than requiring it. Think of it as a "no designer left behind" initiative.

    And thank you for your candidness. I didn't want to anger anyone (yes, I know in a community this size the odds were against me). The rant was intended as a gripe to break the ice and it got out of hand. Mea culpa ad infinitum
  • Thor, I've just been thinking about it a lot. I mean, I proofread the shit out of that game and had some others do it too, and several things still got through (The Great God Timoth knows what I'm talking about). It's frustrating and reduces the effectiveness of the game. Most of the mistakes are in minimally relevant areas, but there's a freakin' missing rule.

    Here's the thing, Jason. Shock: isn't a punk rock, xeroxed-on-the-Man's-dime work. It's intented to be as sleek as I could make it. 1.1 will be sleeker, but I had to start somewhere, and I wanted that to start off A-grade. Under the Bed was more of a low-budge, seat-of-the-pants thing, but I still didn't want typos and crap. I certainly didn't want errors in the rules.

    See, cuz your text is all your players have to go on. If you fuck it up, you're fucking up their play. So amateur? Sure! But error-frought? not if I can help it.

  • It wasn't my intention to call out Shock: in any way, although with hindsight, it's pretty obvious that it's the game we're playing right now, so it would look that way. As it happens, I am fully expecting a disheartening proportion of the 24 games I picked up at Gen Con to have bits missing. I won't say that I regret laying down >$400 for them all, but it is disappointing. It's the nature of the beast right now. As a community of designers, we have swung towards better production values in the graphical and layout arenas, at the expense of editing. I am also not talking about the kind of editing that my disease enables. Everything has typos - you can't get them all. (Hmm... a Covenant character with that truism... how would that play?) I am also explicitly not excluding 'punk' or low budget D-I-Y designs. In fact, I fully intend to publish White Dragon (if I ever finish the fucking thing) using the resources available to me at work, and a handy long-handled stapler. I won't be charging more than a few bucks for it, though.

    So what am I kvetching about? Missing rules. Joshua, I just don't buy that you ran out of people to ask to read Shock:. There were, what, forty designers at the Forge booth this year? I think your priorities were in making sure - for yourself - that the game played well, and making sure that the game looked fabulous - you succeeded admirably in both. I don't think you put sufficient weight on the value of getting someone outside your immediate circle to read the text before publishing, so when the crunch came, you didn't. Tell me I'm wrong. To be absolutely clear, there were two things that stood out to me in the text on first read (not counting typos, which, like I said, is a disease best not nurtured): 1) no rules for the number of issues and shocks or who chooses them, and 2) a disproportionate amount of the text relating to Protagonist choices is about defining your Antagonist, too little about Features. The Praxis / Fulcra issues didn't come up until we played - which is a whole other issue: it is much more time-consuming and challenging getting an external playtest than an external rules reader, and a topic for another time, I hope.

    I reiterate: this is not a problem exclusive to Shock:, and not one that makes me want to return the book in high dudgeon demanding my money back. But it's a problem that will see me throwing a screaming hissy fit, if it still obtains with new games next year.

    FWIW, I will gladly read game manuscripts. If they're more than fifty pages, I'll probably ask you for money or beer, because just as the gaming audience buying the book should value its worth, so should the game designer value the importance of getting external input before publication. Since I'm a realist (with a cool, well-paid, job) it won't be very much money, although it might be a lot of beer. Also, I confess I can't spare the time to do ad hoc reads based on the Connections forum on the Forge; I just don't have the bandwidth. But if you want me to look over a game, PM me there, whisper to me here, post on my LJ, email me at ajn at ajnewman dot net, or at ajnewman at google dot com, IM me at YoungIskander, or ask me at a convention.

    Of course I can't speak for the nerds (and many of them wouldn't be interested at all), but several of us are looking at playtest "best practice" pretty seriously in a smoke-filled room, and nerdNYC is a community that has potential to be tapped. There are others out there.

    Full disclosure: due to my new actually-having-a-job working requirements, I'm typically writing here in the morning, before (or at best, during) caffeine intake. I recognise that I am frequently more grouchy than I would normally be. Sorry.
  • edited September 2006

    Alexander, that's forty designers who all needed this service. Forty designers who were trying hard to finish their own games. They'd have been useless. In the unlikely event that I could have traded the service to a single person, it would have been nearly useless; that's only one more person going over it once. The trick is that you need a new pair of eyes going over and playing the game every time. It's possible that it could have been a highly trained pair of eyes, I suppose, going over it many times, but those are few (though presumably an even number).

    If those forty designers had distributed their efforts among each other, that means we'd each have had to read and play forty games. I get about four games a month in.

    So what I'm saying is that we need a process that leverages our community — if we have fifty new games next year, you can't proofplay them all yourself, and even if you could, you could only really do it once — to distibute proofplay across players in a small amount of time because, like it or not, Gen Con is our Christmas frenzy season and we have a deadline to make.

    This can't be distributed to the designers who will already no doubt be pressed to fix their own games up in time. It has to be distributed to other people.

  • edited September 2006
    Joshua speaks wisely.

    Plus, I think there are many, many other ways in which getting these "other people" of which he speaks to play, test, edit, and so on our games will have good results other than just cleaner texts.

    Because much as I love you guys, there are times where we get a bit too incestuous for our own good.

    (Oh, and the other Joshua spoke wisely as well. If you're reprinting you should be fixing. But the fact that I agree with Joshua RamaGupta should surprise no one. We're incestuous, we are.)
  • edited September 2006
    Hello All,

    For those of you interested, I have created a rudimentary website for the Indie RPG Proof-reading Community -->

    Please check it out and send me your comments and suggestions.

  • Posted By: Matthijs
    What I see lacking in the game design process is the RPG designer equivalent of an interaction designer. That is, someone who helps make the rules text accessible and attractive for the players. I've read several games - and I'm talking everything from playtest documents to printed books - that would have benefited enormously from clearer structure, less verbosity, a single diagram, a different chapter order.
    Total agreement from over in this corner (speaking as a former editor and tech writer). Surprisingly few people are good at this, and I don't necessarily claim to be one myself since people regularly misunderstand stuff I write. Can we try to build up some best-practice guidelines, maybe some "before and after" samples? Something?

    Oh, and Iskander's "Everything has typos - you can't get them all" is totally true. I've often noticed that when authors say "Thanks to my editor, who caught a lot of errors," their book usually still has a much higher than normal number of errors in it. This is because it started out with so many that the editor couldn't catch more than a percentage. I speak here from experience (though the author I'm thinking of didn't thank me; she threw a fit when she found that I was starting my editing process on each manuscript she submitted by doing a find-and-replace to remove all her commas, since she almost invariably used them incorrectly. The bizarre thing was that she had somehow been making a living as a journalist for about 30 years.)
  • Can we try to build up some best-practice guidelines, maybe some "before and after" samples? Something?

    I think there were some good ideas over at The appealing and well-formed first PDF - perhaps we can build on those?
  • Yes, I kind of had that in mind when I said "best-practice guidelines".
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